tUnE-yArDs, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 15th February 2012:
Myself, Rob and Rory (with two brothers McDermott in tow) went to see Tune yards (I refuse to bring myself to spell them “tUnE-yArDs” without the use of copy and paste) in the Shepherd’s Bush Empire last Wednesday. Now, I don’t know half as much about music now as I did when I was 17, which effectively ruled out me having heard anything of note about these guys before, apart from the previous post,which I’d assumed involved a male singer. Turns out that the band is a rather zany interpretation of the adorably-cute-manic-pixie-dream-girl-front-woman trend in music. Comparing and contrasting Merrill Garbus (I just used Wikipedia) to the worryingly charming Lisa Hannigan could lead to an essay of its own. I’m very unclear as to which direction it would take but it sheds an interesting new light on the whole thing. I’m going to stop talking about Lisa now. But given this, the band is based around the inevitable female singer-songwriter on ukelele, but it also contains- and only contains – some pretty funky bass playing, and two saxophonists. Two of them, and noone else, apart somebody somewhere in the ether operating an 8 track that repeats some drum beats the ukelelist plays before the song proper starts. Naturally enough.
They weren’t bad. The show started with what could be best described as traditional African acapella doowopping, which would have been great on record, but seemed a bit contrived if nonetheless impressive from a white girl from New England. But the girl’s got a set of lungs on her, and a likeable, impressive attitude and the crowd was clearly getting into it quickly. (The same crowd incidentally was best described as very androgynous and off-puttingly younger than me). Garbus seemed at times to be a little unsure of herself dealing with the audience between songs but there was a sense of the euphoria of the new about the place, and it seemed clear that most of the crowd had spent a long time waiting for the chance to see them live; she got through this fine without anyone noticing and it was clear it was going down well enough. The Empire is an intimate enough venue too, so the band made a connection quickly.
The music itself was interesting too – combined with the band’s demeanour and occasional dance routine, they managed to pull off a high-energy, mellow vibe. Which in truth doesn’t make very much sense when spelled out like that, so that’s quite an achievement in itself. I enjoyed the night – the music was pleasant- but nonetheless I did feel that this might be a young man’s game. I’d happily see them again, I’d be happy to listen to them again, but for whatever reason the show didn’t connect with me in the same way I think. A worthwhile night out, and I can see why these young people like them, but I’m not getting carried away yet.